I love images that are simple and elegant but every once in a while we must have some drama.
Dramatic effect has been a part of photography since its inception. In the 20th Century photographers like Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell never missed a chance to create images during storms or other dramatic phenomenon.
Old things slipping into the past is inevitable, and that stands true for legendary photographers and photographs just as much as anything else.
I’ve always disdained the seeming obsession people have with comparing people from the past, with people today. By that I mean the comparisons of athletes, artists etc.
I always look at the accomplishments of individuals, within the world that they actually lived in. There is no athlete of any sport who could be fast forwarded to today, as they were in the past, and be competitive. That doesn’t mean they are inferior. In sports the equipment changes, training changes, technology and medicine change, diet changes, people are larger today, knowledge (video etc,) changes. In some cases old athletes would still rank on top today, if they had all the amazing benefits today’s competitors have privy to. In other cases no. Photography is no different from sports.
Earlier photographer’s had less equipment and far worse equipment, no software, worse clothing (weather), vehicles that were suspect in comparison to today’s, less knowledge available, no cell phones, no internet to compare to, travel of all sorts was much more difficult, no immediate knowledge of conditions, weather and otherwise in preferred locations. On the other hand, and there is always another hand, they had the advantage of far, far, far, less completion for their status. Two of the most legendary images ever made were Ansel Adams’s Moonrise over Hernandez and Galen Rowell’s Rainbow over the Dalai Lama’s palace. These were dramatic shots by two photographers noted for drama. Today I can travel on a world-wide journey via the internet and in mere moments find pictures that are more spectacular, more technically proficient, than those from Ansel and Galen, and find 50 of them from photographers that I have never even heard of.
I was going to display copies of each of the aforementioned images. The only photos I could find were not only very small, but terrible in quality. I won’t take part in the injustice of sharing those pix. I have seen fine art prints of both pictures in the past, and while they are nothing like what can accomplished by a rank amateur today, they were technically good.
Whether it’s photography, sports, or any other endeavor, the best of any era are the best for a reason. They need to be compared with others of the same time, if a comparison is even necessary. There will always be those who rise above the rest, and they deserve to be remembered within the context of the era ( and with the accomplishments) that they lived in.
For those of you who are, or wish to be professional nature photographers, follow the links below. If any of this sounds familiar, it might be because I have said some of these things myself, on the pages of Earth Images, although definitely not as well as Kevin Adams or Darwin Wiggett.
11 Myths About Professional Nature Photographers by Kevin Adams
Ten Myths About Nature Photographers by Darwin Wiggett
Thank you, Wayne